Salem State French Faculty, Alum, and Undergrad Judge Local French Contest
By Dr. Elizabeth Blood, Department of Foreign Languages
On March 17, 2010, the Salem Richelieu Club sponsored its annual “Concours Oratoire,” a French contest for North Shore high school students. The three judges of the contest were Richelieu members and also members of the French program at Salem State: Elizabeth Blood (associate professor of French), Joe Welch (an alum of the Salem State French Major), and Shawn Pinette (a current undergraduate French student). Student contestants from Salem High School, Swampscott High School, Marblehead High School, and Danvers High School each offered a five-minute oral presentation in French and were judged on content, pronunciation, fluency, and presentation style. The winner – the student from Salem High School – was awarded a $400 scholarship, while the runners-up each won $200 towards their future educational goals.
The Richelieu Club is a community organization that is dedicated to promoting the French language and Francophone cultures, while also raising funds to donate to local charities. The Salem Richelieu Club annually donates to the Plummer Home for Boys and the St. Joseph’s Food Pantry, and sponsors cultural events in Salem, including the “Conours Oratoire,” a monthly dinner where all members speak only French, and a monthly French film private screening at Cinema Salem. Members include many Franco-Americans who grew up in Salem’s French-speaking community and want to continue to practice and perfect their French through the club’s activities, as well as a number of native speakers from France and Québec, teachers, students and former students of French. Joe Welch, who graduated from Salem State in the late 1970’s, went on to complete a bilingual law degree and an MBA at McGill University in Montréal. He currently works and lives in Salem and has been a member of the Richelieu Club for many years. Dr. Blood joined the club in 2009, and student Shawn Pinette was inducted just this spring.
When asked about the contest, Shawn Pinette remarked, “It was an honor for me to participate as a judge. Being a member of the Richelieu Club is a great experience because it’s one of the few avenues for me to go out and actually use my French outside of school.” Dr. Blood agrees that the activities of the club are a great community service for anyone interested in practicing their French language skills. “We have developed a great relationship between the College’s French program and the Salem Richelieu Club which has enriched both of our organizations. It’s amazing to see current students and alumni who are still so dedicated both to using their French, promoting French activities, and contributing to community organizations. We look forward to future collaborations and to more students and alumni joining the Richelieu Club!”
For information about the Richelieu International, the club’s parent organization, see: http://www.richelieu.org/fr/